Jordan’s Parl’t speaker: ‘I support the resistance until Palestine restores sovereignty’ | Gotcha | Ammon News

Jordan’s Parl’t speaker: ‘I support the resistance until Palestine restores sovereignty’

[4/10/2018 11:13:58 AM]

AMMONNEWS - During his short visit to Cairo, Atef Tarawneh, speaker of Jordan’s House of Representatives, sat for an exclusive interview with Egypt Today on Saturday where he discussed many pertinent issues pertaining which are taking the region by storm. Tarawneh discussed Jordan’s efforts in Syria, in the Palestinian Reconciliation, and the terrorism threat that has plagued the region as of late.

Tarawneh stressed that Egyptian-Jordanian relations are deeply-rooted in history owing to the efforts of the people of both Jordan and Egypt, clarifying that relations between the institutions of the two countries are “strong and solid,” and that relations between the two parliaments “could not have been better.”

The speaker of the Jordanian House of Representatives has clearly stated Jordan’s stance on all of these issues, affirming that Jordan’s “sovereignty is absolute” and that “it aims to mediate” in any dispute.

How do you evaluate the Egyptian-Jordanian cooperative relations, especially in the economic sphere?

The Jordanian-Egyptian relations are deeply-rooted in history owing to the efforts of the people of both Jordan and Egypt. On an institutional level, relations between the Jordanian and the Egyptian parliaments could not have been better, and the trade agreement between Cairo and Amman to facilitate the transportation of goods between Jordan and Egypt is a matter of national interest for Jordan.

How is the project of constructing an oil pipeline from Iraq to Egypt through Jordan coming along?

The project is in progress, and there are preliminary approvals, cost estimates and course-setting for the line from the Iraqi parliament. We are optimistic about commencing the construction of this pipeline soon.

What do you think of the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas under the auspices of Egypt? How can Jordan support it?

Egypt leads the Arab world and has a significant political weight in addition to a remarkable presence in all international forums; it has exerted huge efforts throughout the past few years. Jordan’s national interest intersects with the Palestinian reconciliation since there are large numbers of Palestinians living in the Kingdom of Jordan; some refugees have even been living in Jordan for seven decades, and there are Palestinian citizens who constantly cross the West Bank to the lands of Jordan and the other way round. Therefore, Jordan will always welcome any interference from Egypt to resolve the Palestinian disputes.

Are you pro the disarmament of the Gaza factions? How do you perceive the competition inside the Palestinian authority for succeeding Mahmoud Abbas?

Disagreements between brothers should never reach the point of losing track of the original goal, and that is resisting the occupier of their lands. The Palestinian powers should unite because where there is resistance there cannot be disarmament, and therefore arms should be organized and should hide no outlaws or terrorists behind. Therefore, in principle, I support the resistance until the land goes back to its rightful owners and until Palestinians restore their sovereignty; but conflicts about posts and positions can cause the loss of opportunities, and can give the colonizer of their lands one more advantage against their divided factions, and hence would make negotiating difficult, and as a peace-loving state we prefer negotiating to armed fighting as a method for resolving conflicts.

Jordan is one of the countries that is concerned with the stability of Libya. How do you view Cairo’s efforts in uniting the national army of Libya?

The Arab world is in dire need for national internal reconciliations. Conciliating our Libyan brothers would have a positive effect in empowering the Arab front as one of the world’s geopolitical groups, and Egypt’s geographical proximity to Libya has given it a great influence on the Libyan situation.

The Muslim Brotherhood is listed as a terrorist group in many Arab countries. Does the Brotherhood pose a threat to the Kingdom of Jordan?

The Brotherhood in Jordan doesn’t pose any threats to the security of the Kingdom, and they are part of the national matrix and have seats in the parliament and have thus sworn on the constitution of Jordan and are bound by its articles. However, we have freedom of speech which allows anyone to express their opinions under the sovereignty of Jordanian law, and we can’t label them as terrorists.

There is a concern that elements from Syria could steal into Jordan and from there to Sinai. Does the Jordanian army ensure the complete security of its borders?

During the years of the Arab Spring in which some Arab regimes were shaken, Jordan was well-composed and its army took on the mission of protecting its northern and eastern borders. As you may well know, the borders are under normal conditions defended by two armies, but since the onset of this difficult period, the army has been exerting tremendous efforts in safeguarding the borders.

The Jordanian army is a well-trained and a highly-qualified army which operates according to a belief system; it’s an Arab nationalist army which resolved many of the problems of the Syrian refugees swarming through its land, and as you all know, we have received a 1.3 million refugees. It is to be reckoned among the merits of the Jordanian army that not a single drop of blood was spilt on the Jordanian borders. It is an army that is highly alert and capable of its military duties and of preserving the security of Jordan internally and externally. The security of Egypt is part of the security of Jordan, which is a deeply-rooted principle in our army’s code, built on the foundations of Arab nationalism.

Is there any sort of coordination with the government in Damascus for managing the shared borders between Jordan and Syria?

There certainly is coordination on matters of security with the government in Damascus to secure the borders. As you know, Jordan greatly contributed in establishing the de-escalation zone off the north borders of the Kingdom because it is our duty to protect our borders from any kind of danger, while at the same time we refrain from any kind of interference in Syria’s internal affairs.

The fighting in Syria seems to be moving to the south. What is the nature of the coordinative measures between Jordan, Syria, the United States and Russia to stabilize the cease-fire state on Jordan’s northern borders?

Security coordination is continuously being carried out. Jordan is capable of securing its borders, and it has done so in the most difficult and violent of times. So far, the south of Syria is a safe zone with no violations, unlike before, and it is Jordan’s interest to coordinate with any entity that could assist in securing its borders.

Is there any intention to restore the relations with the Damascene government through a joint parliamentary cooperation?

The Jordanian parliament is taking on its Arab role; it represents Jordanian diplomacy most efficiently, and would thus never waste an opportunity to join forces with other Arab parliaments, be it Syria or any other country. We are connected to the Syrians through a neighborhood and a friendship, in addition to the common denominators between the people inhabiting the north of Jordan and those inhabiting the south of Syria owing to marriage and kinship relations between citizens in the two regions. In the end, we hope that things go back to how they were.

Do you support Syria’s return to its seat in the Arab League?

Certainly. Seats in the Arab League are for all Arab countries, and no country should be excluded on accounts of a temporary political disagreement or because of going off track in the heat of the moment. I support Syria’s return, and any other Arab country for that matter, to their seats in the Arab League because we don’t need division but unity.

Jordan is taking an honorable stance on the Palestinian issue. How can the Arab stance against Trump’s decision on Jerusalem be translated into action?

The people, leadership and parliament of Jordan expressed their refusal to acknowledge Donald Trump’s decision. Parliamentarians took to the streets to express their disapproval by studying and listing all Israeli breaches of international legitimacy which were found to exceed 190 breaches, and thereby exposing the fabrications of the colonizing state of Israel. Jordan took an early stance against Trump’s decision because we saw that the American patron of the peace process has sided with one party against the other. The Palestinian cause is a national cause for us. The historical Hashemite guardianship of Islamic and Christian holies in Jerusalem which goes back to the 20s of the past century, and it is not something we can easily withdraw from it.

What, then, is your stance on the attempts to share the guardianship of Jerusalem’s holy sites with Jordan?

We say to all our neighbor and sister countries that what connects us to the Palestinian people is unity of the land, blood, beliefs and fate, and that the Hashemite guardianship is historically Arab, and no one could ever usurp this responsibility, which is the pride of the Hashemite royal family, from our hands.

In case Israeli escalations in the occupied lands continue, what steps would Jordan take? And what is the future of the peace process?

What we do in all international forums whether as Parliament, as government or as people is the rejection of Israeli violations. We take into consideration the interests of the Palestinian people first and foremost, for the Kingdom fosters huge numbers of Palestinians and together we have common interests; besides, many Palestinians who live in the colonized lands study in Jordanian universities, and we thus do not want to constrict them more than they already are constricted by the pressures of Israel. Therefore, we will continue to expose Israeli violations and breaches. We are a peace-loving country, but we will not let any situation pass by, whether Arab, European or international, without using it to expose Israel’s violations; and I believe that this serves the Palestinian situation as well as the Jordanian interests more than anything else.

Has Jordan laid conditions for Israel’s ambassador’s return to Amman?

When an Israeli diplomat assaulted two Jordanian citizens in Amman, the Kingdom of Jordan took swift action where both the Parliament and the government were in accords regarding rejecting the diplomat’s actions. We called for a trial and the ambassador’s return was not approved of unless Israel accepts Jordan’s conditions for his return, including compensating the families of the two citizens who were assaulted.

Are there any Jordanian moves to recover the lands colonized by Israel in the Aghwar district of Jordan?

Let me explain this to you. There are Israeli people who own properties in Jordanian lands, but under absolute Jordanian sovereignty. When the Peace Accords were signed, the lands falling within Israeli property were signed for 25 years. But it is not unlikely that the lands could be recovered, because at the end of the day these are contracts that have nothing to do with sovereignty but only with the utility of the land. Jordanian sovereignty is absolute.

What is Jordan’s stance on the deal of the century which is celebrated by the Western media?

We haven’t seen it but only heard of it, but all in all we hope that all deals would serve the Palestinian cause most of all. We have never given much concern to deals, and we have never traded in Arab blood; our standards are Arab as well as they are historically rooted, and we will continue to pass them on to the coming generations.

What is the truth about the tension in the relations between Jordan’s House of Representatives and the government because of the latter’s economic policies?

This is realistic because governments present action plans, but when at some point they go off course, the House of Representatives has the right to exercise its constitutional rights. We are not in conflict because we are not militias, we take the government’s hand when the national interest calls for it, and we restrain it if it commits any violations, also for national interest, and this is what our constitution urges us to do.

Is Jordan prepared to turn in the icons of Saddam Hussein’s regime should Iraq demand it to do so?

There are no Iraqi leaders in Jordan. There is Raghad Saddam Hussein, the daughter of former president Saddam Hussein, who is seeking asylum; and we, as Arabs, understand the significance, the implications and the obligations of asylum. Hosting her does not violate Jordanian laws in any way, for the Kingdom puts to trial any Jordanian or foreign citizen who molests neighboring countries, and Jordanian law gets to have the final word on the matter.

Do you mean to say that supporters of the former Iraqi regime in general, and Raghad Saddam Hussein in particular, did not fund terrorism in Iraq?

There is a court, and if she or anyone else is convicted, Jordan will not conceal it. However, the Kingdom of Jordan has standards, and she is a guest who has not broken any Jordanian laws and who, during her presence in Jordan, has not engaged in any political activities that could harm Iraq.

What is your stance on the Arab Quartet’s position against Qatar?

The general disposition of Jordan is to mediate and bring together Arab perspectives, and we are hoping that this crisis is temporary and that it will end soon. We are pro-Arab unity, and we hope that relations go back to their former amiable state. A better rhetoric should be used, and hasty decision-making and stance-taking should be stopped. We have common interests and a common fate, and it is neither logical nor wise to stay this divided.

How are Jordanian-Iranian relations going? And why were they indirectly severed?

There was never anything of the sort. I personally made two visits to Tehran, and I have met Iranian delegations in all international forums. Let’s be frank, the file of targeting the Gulf’s strategic depth does not operate in favor of anyone, be it Iran or any other. Yet Jordan reserves the right to have relations with Iran so long as there is no enmity between the two countries, besides, our Arab brothers in the Gulf have diplomatic relations with Iran and they surely take into account the interests of Jordan. We are not ‘stuck-up’ against any sort of relations, but we will fiercely combat any assault on our strategic depths.

Are there any disagreements between Jordan and the United States? And on the other hand, what is your evaluation of the relations between Amman and Moscow?

Jordanian-Russian relations are excellent, strong and with historical roots. Relations with the United States are not limited to relations with the American administration, because we also have relations with the Congress, the Pentagon and the Senate. There is also security cooperation and alliance against the Islamic State, and many other positive aspects to our relations with the U.S. But as for the decision on Jerusalem, the Kingdom’s response in rejecting Trump’s decision was very clear and unmistakable for the whole world.

Finally, what is Jordan’s strategy in fighting terrorism?

We are one of the early countries to fight terrorism outside its borders and did not wait for it to invade our lands before taking action. We thus sent a very strong and clear message that we are against terrorism wherever and whenever it is found. And indeed Jordan did punish all terrorists.

*Egypt today

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